$30m partnership brings first Catholic school to Strathalbyn

A $30 million partnership between Catholic Education SA and Hickinbotham Group is set to introduce Strathalbyn’s first Catholic school, enhancing education in this rapidly growing community.

Catholic Education South Australia has announced a significant partnership with Hickinbotham Group to establish a new $30 million school in Strathalbyn. This initiative marks the first Catholic school in the Alexandrina Council region and is aimed at serving both existing families and new home buyers in the fast-expanding areas around Strathalbyn.

The new institution will be a primary school campus of St Francis de Sales College, catering to students from Reception through to Year 6, with potential future expansion up to Year 9 depending on the demand for enrolments.

The proposed site for the school is within the Aurora community, developed by Hickinbotham, located near the heart of Strathalbyn. The first-phase plans for the eight-hectare campus include modern learning environments, comprehensive sports facilities, and an expansive sports oval. However, these are subject to approval from the council.

The Strathalbyn area, with a prospective population increase of around 1800 people over the next decade, is experiencing significant residential development, including 300 new homes at the Aurora development alone.

Dr Neil McGoran, Executive Director of Catholic Education SA, commented on the development. “This new school development is part of our commitment to expanding Catholic Education pathways and building a stronger focus on student learning and quality teaching in the Adelaide Hills,” he said. McGoran also emphasized the organisation’s statewide presence, with over 100 Catholic schools delivering comprehensive education.

Andrew Baker, Principal of St Francis de Sales College, highlighted the existing connections between the college and the Strathalbyn community. “Our College already embraces the Strathalbyn community with two buses transferring students to our Mount Barker campus each day. I am confident that local families will welcome the opportunity to have a Catholic schooling option in the heart of their community.

“We have been experiencing strong enrolment growth at our Mt Barker College for some
time. In recent years, enrolments have grown by over 30 percent. In 2020, we had around
695 students. With our 2024 midyear Reception intake, we will grow to 980 students, with enrolments expected to exceed 1,000 in 2025.

“In the last five years, we have opened our ELC and new primary school facilities to meet
growing demand. We’re committed to providing the same educational excellence and quality learning opportunities in Strathalbyn.”

Hickinbotham Group, Managing Director Michael Hickinbotham reiterated the importance of community-centric development. “It’s one thing to build a home; it’s another to support the evolution and growth of a community,” he stated.

The St Francis de Sales College campus in Strathalbyn is slated to open in 2029. CESA and Hickinbotham Group already have an accomplished partnership in similar projects, like Xavier College at Two Wells, which saw significant growth and became the fastest growing regional school in South Australia in 2023.

The Strathalbyn campus of St Francis de Sales College is expected to open in 2029.
Parents who wish to express an interest in enrolling their children can go to or contact the school on (08) 8393 1000.

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